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ICOS reaction to EU budget agreement

Reacting to the agreement reached by EU leaders on the EU Multiannual Budget 2021-2027 and COVID-19 recovery fund, ICOS has called for greater clarity in the deployment of the Brexit Adjustment Fund and has highlighted a disparity between funding provided for agriculture and the EU’s environmental commitments. 

Commenting, Jerry Long, President of ICOS said: “Given the substantial climate and environmental targets set by the EU and Ireland specifically for the agricultural sector, under the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies, a cut of 10% in the CAP budget is not only disappointing but nonsensical. The CAP is the main mechanism through which farmers are addressing climate change adaptation and mitigation and is the chief driver of conversion to the sustainable practices and production being demanded of the primary production sector. Cutting funding only serves to limit the opportunities for farmers to act. This disparity will need to be addressed through national co-financing and well targeted and effective CAP interventions that are made accessible to all farmers. 

“In addition, the cut made to the rural development funding within the COVID-19 recovery fund down to €7.5 billion from €15bn is very regrettable. This will certainly have a negative impact on the ability of our rural economy to survive the current economic downturn and additional efforts will need to be made by the Irish government to ensure our rural communities are not left behind. 

“The creation of a new Brexit Adjustment Reserve is however a very welcome outcome. ICOS has been calling for such a support from the Commission for several years and the establishment of the reserve is an important recognition of the economic disruption that is still to come as a result of the UK leaving the EU. This is especially the case for the Irish agri-food industry which has deeply integrated supply chains with the UK and which are severely exposed to the fallout of Brexit, whether an agreement is reached or not. 

 “We will now seek greater clarity on how the funding can be accessed by businesses to make the necessary supply chain adjustments and technological and infrastructural investments to respond to our new relationship with the UK.”

ICOS (The Irish Co-operative Organisation Society) currently represents 130 co-operative enterprises in Ireland, with over 150,000 individual members, a combined turnover of €14 billion and employing more than 12,000 people.